Author: N.K. Jemisin
Series: Forward Collection #3
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
First Published: September 17, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Prime Reading
What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy.
An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare.Also in this series: Ark, Randomize, Summer Frost
I was excited when I found out about the Forward Collection, and I wanted to start off the series strong with one of the highest-rated stories. With the climate crisis on the minds of every world leader, this story couldn’t be more timely. Emergency Skin follows a soldier from a future human society that has long since abandoned the dying planet Earth to rebuild in space. He is sent on a mission to gather much-needed material in order to ensure the survival of his race. He’s told that the world should be long dead and the surviving population devolved, but that’s not what he finds when he arrives.
“Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a world, you see. A new vision. A new way of thinking, appearing at just the right time.”
A large part of the story is told from a third-person point of view, the computer control that is guiding the soldier on his journey. It was an interesting style of narration that made the unfolding of the events enjoyable to read. I enjoyed the sociopolitical commentary about caring for more than just money and putting other people below you, and the value of the natural order of the world. Unfortunately, the story itself was a bit predictable and I found it underwhelming. I also found the simple explanation about what happened to the dire state of the environment to be too easy and idealistic, when the issues we currently face with climate change are complex.
Overall a fun story to read easily in one sitting, the story had enough irony to make me chuckle and I’m glad I started this series. Just don’t expect much since it is a simple short.